These and Those

Musings from Students of the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem

אחרי מות

Posted on April 15, 2011 by Barer

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Rashi, in his first comment on the parsha (16:1), asks the perennial question: Why, after two parshiyot talking about the details of ritual impurity, does the text remind us so clearly that Aaron has recently lost his two eldest sons?  Rashi quotes the book Torat Kohanim (The Book of Priests, 16:3), the main collection of midrash to the book of Vayikra (Leviticus), which provides the following parable: If a sick person goes to a doctor, and the doctor cautions that the patients should not eat cold food or inhabit cold places, the patient may or may not be scrupulous about the advice.  But if the doctor adds ‘because so-and-so had the same condition as you, and she died’ then it is much more likely that the patient will be sure to avoid cold food and damp places.  And so the text is preparing Aaron so that he will be sure to follow the instructions to follow lest he die as his sons did.

Why would you remind
A grieving parent, his sons
so recently dead?